Day 4:
Gunnison - Silver Thread - Wolf Creek Pass -

Colorado Highway 149 goes south from US-50 just west of Gunnison, climbing upward into the mountains toward Lake City and Creede.  The route between Lake City and South Fork is know as the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.  At South Fork, Colorado 149 intersects US-160, which heads west across Wolf Creek Pass and down into Pagosa Springs.  US-160 continues west to Durango.  The distance of this route is 229 miles.

Hugging the cliffs and shoreline of Blue Mesa Lake, SR-149 begins to climb immediately after leaving Gunnison.  The trail weaves smoothly through the Gunnison and Rio Grande National Forests toward Lake City, the highest county in the continental United States at 8,670 feet.  

Between Lake City and South Fork, SR-149 shadows the headwaters of the Rio Grande, providing many beautiful sights – North Clear Creek Falls, the Slumgullion earth slide, and the shark-like fin of Uncompahgre Peak.   This route includes ghost towns, mountain peaks, and unique and unusual rock formations.  The colorful old mining camps of the Silver Thread offer history and scenic beauty.  For a biker, the road features lots of smooth, predictable turns with fantastic views.

Leaving South Fork, Colorado 160 heads west via the 10,857-foot Wolf Creek Pass.  Wolf Creek Ski area has an average snowfall of 435 inches and snow can fall there at any time of the year.  A slow three-lane descent winds through a series of gentle curves into Pagosa Springs, which took its name from the Ute, who called the hot springs “Pagosah, or boiling waters”.  A short ride brings you to Durango.

Scenes along Colorado 149 south of Gunnison.

Lake City is the site of Alferd Packer’s picnic.  Seems Alferd was an adventurer  who killed, robbed, and ate his five traveling companions during a prolonged blizzard.  It was late afternoon when we passed the site of Alferd's misdeed.  Pat must have been getting hungry because he began eyeing me suspiciously.


Pat reluctantly suits up in rain gear just before passing through the Wolf Creek Pass snow shed.

The tunnel above is the Wolf Creek Pass snow shed.  We passed through the tunnel expecting rain, but before we knew it hail began to fall.  Stinging as it pelted off our faces.  Bouncing off the girls' helmets.  Our windshields iced over.  We stopped as soon as we could but there was no place to find cover.  In desperation we continued to ride slowly toward the top of the pass.  Finally as we cleared Wolf Creek Pass the hail turned to rain, then stopped.  The first time either of us had ridden in hail...... and the last we hope!
Not 30 minutes after experiencing hail on Wolf Creek Pass, unbelievably we were sitting on the veranda of the Pagosa Springs' Junction Restaurant in shirt sleeves having pie and coffee.  
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